School & District Management

Consulting Firm Hires Big Names

By Lesli A. Maxwell — May 08, 2007 1 min read

A handful of high-profile current and former urban superintendents have joined a start-up education consulting firm to peddle their expertise on raising student achievement to district leaders and state education officials.

The new firm, Education Strategy Consulting, based in Charlottesville, Va., was founded by Benjamin Sayeski, a former elementary school principal, and Matthias Hild, a business professor at the University of Virginia. So far, the co-founders have lined up four veteran school leaders to serve as senior partners. One is Ramon C. Cortines, a former schools chief in New York City, San Francisco, and San Jose who is now the deputy mayor for education in Los Angeles.

The other partners are Deborah Jewell-Sherman, the superintendent in Richmond, Va.; Denise K. Schnitzer, a former chief of staff and interim superintendent in Norfolk, Va.; and Eric J. Smith, the senior vice president for college readiness at the College Board and a former schools chief in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., and Anne Arundel County, Md.

“These are all forward-thinking people who want to leave education in a better place,” said Mr. Sayeski. “In order to do that, they know that there has got to be some scale to school reforms and improvement.”

Mr. Hild said the firm will seek to fill what he called a gap in the chain of consulting services available to large school districts and state departments of education.

“We’re not talking about doing a bunch of one-off consulting reports that go on a shelf and then we leave,” he said. “We are talking about putting the people and the processes in place to help districts and schools translate plans into concrete actions and sustain them.”

The senior partners, who will remain in their current positions, will participate in the consulting projects in various ways, and Mr. Hild predicted that their services and one-on-one counseling will be especially sought after by new superintendents.

Mr. Hild declined to provide estimates for how much the firm’s services will cost, saying only, “We think a midsize urban district won’t have any problem justifying an item like this in its budget.”

See Also

For more stories on this topic see Leadership & Management.

A version of this article appeared in the May 09, 2007 edition of Education Week

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